Epiphany -- Ecumenical Sunday

A Call to Unity
Service Prayers for the Third Sunday after Epiphany
Celebrated as “Ecumenical Sunday” in the UCC and elsewhere

 Isaiah 9: 1-4 ~ Psalm 27: 1, 4-9
~ 1 Corinthians 1: 10-18 ~ Matthew 4: 12-23

God’s desire for our unity springs from God’s desire for holy relationships among Christians, between Christians and those of other faiths (or no faith) and between Christians and God. Whether or not we choose to celebrate Ecumenical Sunday, let us take a moment to give thanks for all the ways God calls us to be One in Christ.


Call to Worship (inspired by Psalm 27)

Leader:             God is our light and our salvation; whom shall we fear?

People:            God is our shelter and refuge on the days of trouble,

                        and our hope and joy on the days of celebration!


Leader:             Day after day,
                        we seek God’s face and the assurance of God’s holy love:

People:            O God, do not turn from us or hide your face from us!

                        Be our guide and our light instead!


Leader:             One thing we ask of God:

People:            That we may live in God’s dwelling place

                        all the days of our life, and never cease

                        to behold the beauty of God’s home.


Leader:             Beloved of God, enter this worship in thanksgiving,

                        for God is among and within us!

People:            Thanks be to God!



Gracious Light-Bearer,

Into the shadows of our isolation

you speak words of life and community.

Challenger of our lives,

you call us from places we call home

to lead us more deeply into the world you love.

With your gentle, healing touch

you redeem the broken places of our lives

and you heal the wounded places of the earth.

Inspire our worship here this day,

so that we may receive liberation in your word,

and be filled to overflowing

to share your reconciling love throughout the earth.

We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.


Prayer of Confession

Gracious God, in Christ you call us to unity of mind and purpose,

but we confess that our hearts are often turned

toward separation and division.                                         

We quarrel; we encourage rivalries;

we tear down our brothers and sisters in faith.

Help us to remember that all have been baptized as one body

into Christ’s death and resurrection.

Teach us to hold fast to those promises

which draw us together in the Spirit,

so that we may proclaim the power

of Christ’s life and ministry with one voice.


Assurance of Pardon



Receive the good news: there is no place, not even in our hearts,

where the love of God cannot penetrate.

God is around and among us, healing, restoring

and calling us to new life as one body, united in Christ.


Praise be to God

for the gift of forgiveness and the promise of peaceful unity!


Passing the Peace

 In the spirit of peace and the hope of unity,

let us offer each other a sign of Christ’s peace!

Call to Offering

With a clear voice, Jesus calls us to accept the costs and joys of discipleship,

and the challenges of living in peaceful unity

with those who are different from one another.

As we make our offering at this altar,

let us remember that we give and work and love

on behalf of Christ’s whole and undivided body on earth,

and let us celebrate the gift of unity that is ours

through the Spirit and our generous hearts.



God, to you we dedicate these gifts this day.

May this act of giving inspire other ways that

we may "fish for" your people,

seeking out those who need your nourishing spirit.

And we pray that you will multiply them

and the gifts of all your faithful people 

like loaves and fishes,

that your love may be revealed on earth as it is in heaven.       






Go now in peace,

for Christ has called you to live in peace

among your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Go now in courage,

for Christ has called you from the places of your life

to be agents of redemption and partners in healing.

            Go now in joy and thanksgiving,

for Christ is our light!

            Go now as one body,

to love and serve God as you love and serve the world!




A Call to Unity: Service Prayers for the Third Sunday after Epiphany was written by the Rev. Elizabeth Dilley, pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Red Oak, Iowa.

Copyright 2011 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved. 


Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115